Saturday, June 20, 2020

1045. Oh, Lovely Rock - Robinson Jeffers

(How nice to find a poem written long ago that we have lived.)

We stayed the night in the pathless gorge of Ventana Creek, up
  the east fork.
The rock walls and the mountain ridges hung forest on forest
  above our heads, maple and redwood,
Laurel, oak, madrone, up to the high and slender Santa Lucian
  firs that stare up the cataracts
Of slide-rock to the star-color precipices.
We lay on gravel and kept a little camp fire
  for warmth.
Past midnight only two or three coals glowed red in the cooling
  darkness; I laid a clutch of dead bay leaves
On the ember ends and felted dry sticks across them and lay
  down again. The revived flame
Lighted my sleeping son’s face and his companion’s, and the
  vertical face of the great gorge-wall
Across the stream. Light leaves overhead danced in the fire’s
  breath, tree-trucks were seen: it was the rock wall
That fascinated my eyes and mind. Nothing strange: light-gray
  diorite with two or three slanting seams in it,
Smooth-polished by the endless attrition of slides and floods; no
  fern nor lichen, pure naked rock … as if I were
Seeing rock for the first time. As if I were seeing through the
  flame-lit surface into the real and bodily
And living rock. Nothing strange … I cannot
Tell you how strange: the silent passion, the deep nobility and
  childlike loveliness: this fate going on
Outside our fates. It is here in the mountain like a grave
  smiling child. I shall die, and my boys
Will live and die, our world will go on through its rapid
  agonies of change and discovery; this age will die,
And wolves have howled in the snow around a new Bethlehem:
  this rock will be here, grave, earnest, not passive: the energies
That are atoms will still be bearing the whole mountain
  above: and I, many packed centuries ago,
Felt its intense reality with love and wonder, this lonely rock.

1044. Sometimes - Hermann Hesse

Translated by Robert Bly

Sometimes, when a bird cries out,
Or the wind sweeps through the tree,
Or a dog howls in a far off farm,
I hold still and listen a long time.

My soul turns and goes back to the place
Where, a thousand forgotten years ago,
The bird and the blowing wind
Were like me, and were my brothers.

My soul turns into a tree,
And an animal, and a cloud bank.
Then changed and odd it comes home
And asks me questions. What should I reply?

Saturday, April 25, 2020

1043. Live the Question - Rainer Maria Rilke

I want to ask you, as clearly as I can,  to bear with patience
all that is unresolved in your heart,
and try to love the questions themselves,
as if they were rooms yet to enter
or books written in a foreign language.
Don't dig for answers that can't be given you yet:
you cannot live them now.
perhaps then, someday,
you will gradually,
without noticing,
live into the answer. 

Sunday, February 09, 2020

1042. At The Zoo - Linda Pastan

at the Children’s Zoo

The children holding the python
all along its ten-foot mottled body
are like the blind men with the elephant—
what can they know
of what they hold beneath their fingers,
these not quite babies
still in the Eden of preschool,
sloughing off their winter jackets now
in the steamy weather
of the reptile house

And this creature they dare
to carry, this undulating river
of muscle, supple and curving and
thick as the arm of its keeper,
what does it know of sin
or apples, wanting only to follow the flick
of its two-pronged tongue
(like those blind men following
their tapping canes) to any place

its hunger takes it.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

1041. One Of A Kind (abridged) - Walter Rinder

a wonderful addition to life
for there is no one else like you

you are important
believe it  . . . know it
allow your realization
to radiate among
your fellow man
 for there is no one else like you

reflect your feelings
your hopes . . . your dreams
you have much to contribute
take your time
don't hurry
tomorrow will wait for you
for there is no one else like you

grow with your difference
be proud. . . to be happy
like yourself
become a new experience
for other people
they can learn from you
for there is no one else like you

the world needs you
when you hold back
the world is that much less
for there is no one else like you

Friday, November 22, 2019

1040. David - Ishion Hutchinson

You marveled at the vein in the marble.
The moment’s slight pulse when you approached.
His blood murmured when you neared, so I
believed, and still do. When I returned to
it, you were gone in the other country
of my head that will never, like him, age.
Long was I able to stare at the vein.
The giant must’ve just laughed and mocked him.
Then he imagined the giant’s fall, and heard
a restless quiet as far as Sokho.
He thought of the river near the vineyard,
its broad dreaming-stone. He knew it no more.
The animals looked inconsolable.
They knew their boy was lost to become king.
I was supposed to photograph you both;
but the stone sank in me and I didn’t;
my eyes going between David’s and your eyes
as the army, scattered, pushed us apart,
the tumult blotted out what I shouted
to you, which he heard, turned, nodded gently

with a killer’s uncommon sympathy.

Sunday, November 03, 2019

1039. A Parenthesis - James Laughlin

(This poet defaces his couplets with parentheses)
[a word from the Greek coming from para (beside)

+ en (in) + tithenai (to put) whence to put in be-
side] this is a practice très mal vu (deplored)

by egoistical critics who point out that his
lines would be grammatically more correct with

commas or colons    the poet responds quite true
but would they still be mine    for him the paren-

theses ate small fortresses in which he can take
refuge from logic and conventional behavior    his

psychiatrist has a more sinister reading on the
(s) [are their shapes not bivulvar] but he holds

his peace since they content his bizarre patient.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

1038. The Opening of Eyes - David Whyte

After R. S. Thomas

That day I saw beneath dark clouds,
the passing light over the water
and I heard the voice of the world speak out,
I knew then, as I had before,
life is no passing memory of what has been
not the remaining pages in a great book
waiting to be read.

It is the opening of eyes long closed.
It is the vision of far off things
seen for the silence they hold.
It is the heart after years
of secret conversing,
speaking out loud in the clear air.

It is Moses in the desert
fallen to his knees before the lit bush.
It is the man throwing away his shoes
as if to enter heaven
and finding himself astonished,
opened at last, 

fallen in love with solid ground.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

1037. Missing the Boat - Naomi Shihab-Nye

It is not so much that the boat passed 
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window, 
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.
The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.
But you had this idea you were going by train.
You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.
And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.
The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy—
at which point you probably realized 

you had always loved the sea.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

1036. Unloading The Elephants - David Wagoner

Out of the sliding doors
Of steel-gray boxcars
The trunks come groping
Through the gray morning.
Where are we now?
The greatest show
Is on earth, trumpeting
Down the steep ramps and bracing
Forelegs against the heavy
Heavenly bodies
They so carefully balance
Like the commandments 
Shouted to massive heads, to ears
Pondering old orders,
Older than canvas.
Why are you keeping us?
In a huge row, seventeen
Elephants. Why must we learn
From you? What have we done
To be so weighted down?
Trunks raised, they shuffle forward

To the long parade.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

1035. Ruins - Linda Pastan

We picnic by these bleached ruins
a few miles from the village
where we bought this rough
bread and cheese, this bottle
of wine shaped
like a Cycladic goddess.
Nearby is Homer’s Aegean
where bathers in their sculpted
flesh, their beauty, might have been
the models for the limbs
now broken, the faces
fallen from the frieze
of this temple whose ruins
we love because they show
how life is both continuous
and brief and must
be honored with good wine,

with bread and cheese.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

1034. I Love To See You - James Laughlin

in the box of paperclips on by desk
it’s a good place for you because I

can look at you when I’m telephoning
or typing a poem or putting poems in-

to the copy machine to send to maga-
zines that don’t want them    I tried

putting you in the little ormolu
frame where the daguerreotype of

great-grandmother Henrietta used to
be but it didn’t suit    you looked

too formal (you have lovely manners
but thank heaven you aren’t formal)

so I pushed up the paperclips in the 
box and leaned you against the heap

it can’t be very comfortable ( paper-
clips are harder than hay) but you’re

smiling away as if you loved it    I
hope you’re also smiling because you

love me so much you don’t care where
I keep you even in the paperclip box.

Her Reply

I like my picture to be in the box
where you keep your paperclips    I

imagine that when you reach for a
clip you are reaching out for me

it’s a gesture you’ve made a thou-
sand times (whenever you’ve needed

a clip) but now I hope it has be-
come different    given a new mean-

ing by my image    does the movement
of your hand now plead more for me

than thought or memory can    even
at this distance I feel the touch

of your fingers    do they feel they
are touching me    or must I become

again only the icon of my everyday
self as ordinary as your paperclips?

Sunday, August 25, 2019

1033. It Happens To Those Who Live Alone - David Whyte

It Happens To Those Who Live Alone - David Whyte

It happens to those
who live alone
that they feel sure
of visitors
when no one else
is there,

until the one day 
and one particular
working in the 
quiet garden,

when they realize
at once, that all along 
they have been 
an invitation
to everything
and every kind of trouble

and that life
happens by
to those who inhabit

like the bees
the tall mallow
on their legs of gold,
or the wasps
going from door to door
in the tall forest 
of the daisies.

I have my freedom
nothing really happened

and nobody came
to see me.
Only the slow
growing of the garden 
in the summer heat

and the silence of that
unborn life
making itself
known at my desk,

my hands
dark with the
crumbling soil
as I write 
and watch 

the first lines
of a new poem,
like flowers
of scarlet fire,
coming to fullness
in a new light.